February 18, 2011

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street
Islamic Republic of Iran
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Head of the Judiciary
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the detention of journalist Taghi Rahmani.

According to our information, Rahmani was arrested at his home in Tehran by plainclothes authorities on February 9, 2011, and taken to an unknown location. At the same time, several other journalists and bloggers were summoned for questioning by the Revolutionary Guards and the intelligence ministry in various parts of the country ahead of a February 14 demonstration that was called by government opponents in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian peoples. Rahmani is considered to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment, and there are fears for his well-being in detention.

Rahmani has been targeted by authorities for with his journalistic work since 1981. He was prosecuted both for working for underground newspapers such as Pishtazan and Movahed, and for working for legal newspapers such as Iran-e-Farda and Omid Zanjan. In all, he has spent more than 16 years of his life in Iranian prisons.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Taghi Rahmani has been detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as assurances of his well-being in detention.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                   
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790

His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United Nations
622 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086

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